Northwest Indiana is a unique area of duneland, farms and sprawling towns, subdivisions, and shopping centers, This album attempts to present a small slice of the life there.
The cd starts out with a salute to the Indiana State` Police troopers. The next song is based on "courting" in the Dutch areas along Ridge Road in the 1950's and 60's sung by Susan Ruth Brown. John Dillingers escape from the Crown Point jail set to music by old-timey giant Steve Rosen is followed by a wry look at the Calumet River system.
Then comes a biography of Swedish settlers Johanna and Anders Chellberg sung by Marti Pizzini and a song about Valparaiso and Valparaiso University and the Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Fest.
This is followed by two historical numbers about the Great Whiting Fire and The 1940 Hammond Tech State championship basketball team. That celebration is the largest ever held in Northwest Indiana.
Then two institutions celebrating their centennials, US Steel ary Works and South Shore Line. The music concludes with a a lovely song about the Indiana Dunes sung by Marti Pizzini.
The second half of the cd is mostly spoken word beginning with the Andrea Stevens poem read by Johan Allen about The mystical, mythical Diana of the Dunes. CBS news anchor Bill Warrick recalls the history of the South Shore Line and then Carolyn Marsh talks about the bird sanctuary she has taken under her "wing".
David Zandstra remembers the truck farming days and then Betty Trtaverso uncovers many of the mysteries of the functioning of a one room school. Richard Scott has worked in all the big mills along Lake Michigan's south shore and he gives his impressions.
Margo Milde takes a longing look at the Grand Kankakee Marsh followed by Evelyn Cheruvelil' biographical reading of the prayer of Mother Mary Cecilia Bailey. Mike Boos probably is more in touch with the Indiana Side of Wolf Lake than anyone and he does an update on current projects and then Flora Haynes does a wonderful journalistic description of the Sand Hill Cranes of Jasper Pulaski.
Richard Lytle describes the Hammond turnstyle railroad bridge that is trying to be saved by the historical society in Hammond. Kathy Germanos does an expose of the contamination from USS Lead recycling center. Acie talks about Marktown, an architectural landmark in East Chicago, the Calumet Containers EPA superfund cleanup, the invasive plant Phragmites, and the opening up of the beautiful Dune Acres Beach that had been kept private for generations.
Finally Jerry Vernon and Acie do a wonderful How Great Thou Art in memory of 4 northwest Indiana musicians who died recently: Max Brown, Danny Patton, Rick Rock, and Jerry Clemons, sr.
Acie Cargill was born into a musical family. His grandmother was Hattie Mae Tyler Cargill, a noted Kentucky singer of traditional ballads. She was the last of the Tylers, a family noted for being strict preservationists of the musical traditions passed along for many generations from Northern England /Southern Scotland. The tunes that they sung all used primitive scales. They were unique in their area in that they played instruments along with the ballads and the instruments all used special tunings that allowed the ancient tunes to be played without adding obstrusive notes to the performance.
Acie knows all those scales and tunings and has been recorded for the Library of Congress, singing some of the old songs he knows and playing the 5 string banjo in the Tyler drop-thumb style. He is considered the living master of this style.
The family lived in very secluded areas without electricity and they were not exposed to the newer types of music that swept through the US that featured the piano or the guitar using the 6 string guitar chords that are so prevalent today. In the Tyler music, there are no 3-note chords, just moving modal melodies.
Some of this can be heard on Songs and Ballads of Hattie Mae Tyler Cargill, In The Willow Garden, Family Gathering (which featured some of the older Tyler musicians and the remants of the Cargill Brothers’ String Band and Acie playing the banjo as a young boy).
His grandfather was Acie Cargill, a fiddler who came to Chicago to play as a fill in musician with the WLS Barn Dance radio show. Many of the old tunes Acie plays were from the elder Acie via his Grandmother Hattie.
Acie’s father was an associate of Woody Guthrie and played harmonica in their jam sessions. Acie said his fondest memories were sneaking out of bed and hiding to hear the music they played late into the night when Woody visited. Acie’s mother was a church organist for 65 years and her instructions to him can be heard in the song Dear Mother ( for example, don’t you ever play gospel music in a tavern).
It was the exposure to Woody (and also his mother’s playing) that led Acie into learning the chorded guitar styles that he usually plays today in his performances. In public Acie plays folk music, bluegrass, old-time standards, traditional country music, progressive country rock, early rock and roll, old-timey, gospel, and he even played bass for contemporary jazz giants Max Brown and Johnny Frigo.
Acie's cousin, the late Henson Cargill, was a national star with his hit song Skip A Rope. And through one of the Tyler women, Acie is related to country giant Willie Nelson.
He also is a prolific songwriter and has recorded over 400 of his songs available on the internet. His music has been heard in almost every country in the world and three times he has been put up for grammy nominations for folk music and his albums have been among the most played music on college and public radio folk music programs.